It's been nine years since I wished my dad a Happy Father’s Day. Before then, I didn’t think deeply about the day. I’d call him up or send a card; sometimes we went to dinner. I’d tell him he was “the best dad in the world.”
I think more deeply about the day now.
My father was a musician. To pay the expenses, he sold washing machines and refrigerators, but his world revolved around his instruments- the saxophone, clarinet, and bassoon. He performed in jazz bands and orchestras, and for years, he hosted chamber groups in our living room. Our home resonated with the beautiful music of Brahms, Puccini, and Rimsky-Korsakov- and the cacophonous blast of kids practicing their horns.
Between the notes, my father served up a mélange of Russian literature, progressive politics, and baseball- the tragic ironies of Chekhov and Dostoevsky, the salvation of the New Deal, and the Giants’ escape to California.
Decades before I became a doctor, my father taught me how to heal. In the summer of 1972, my brother and I went to a camp in Queens, where we spent our days running through the grass, trees, and cattails. Out of nowhere, I began to awaken each night, unable to breathe. I couldn’t lie flat and I couldn’t inhale past a shallow gulp, trying futilely to cough up sticky mucus. Eventually, I’d shuffle into my parents’ room, waking them with, “I can’t…breathe.”
My father took me back to bed, where he’d lie beside me, telling stories. It was mostly baseball: how he became a Giants’ fan, even though he lived in Brooklyn, because his Cousin Herbie said the 1930s Dodgers were hopeless. He replayed the 1934 all-star game, retelling how Carl Hubbell mowed down the American League’s best hitters. He recounted the Giant’s epic 1951 comeback, culminating in Bobby Thomson’s “shot around the world.” He explained how Sal Maglie got his nickname, “the barber,” by pitching dangerously close to hitters’ faces. Mixed with baseball, he shared how he met my mother while playing in a band in the Catskills, how a bleeding ulcer kept him out of Okinawa, how George Gershwin succumbed to a brain tumor, how my grandfather sold “medicinal” whiskey during Prohibition to survive the Depression, how his first saxophone went sharp on the high notes, and how proud he was to be the father of twins. There was so much more. I listened silently until my lungs relaxed and I fell asleep.
My father influenced the kind of doctor and program director I became. I think about you constantly. I’m there for the good and bad. I thrill to your successes. I have an unshakable faith in your ability.
This year’s Father’s Day coincides with the academic year’s transition. For many of you, today is the last day of internship. I’m so proud of how you’ve grown, how you overcame adversity, how you met your high expectations, and how you cared for each other like siblings. Though you may have doubted you’d make it through the year, I always knew you would.
And tomorrow is Day 1 for the new interns. I feel your nervous anticipation, the strange sensation of being called “doctor” for the first time- excited to start while wondering if you’re ready- which I know you are.
On this Father’s Day, as we honor those who raised us, please grant me this paternal wish- that you remember to care for yourselves and those around you, that your days be filled with joy and awe, and that you know we’re here for you—like fathers and mothers—to counsel you, support you, and cheer you on in the wondrous days ahead.
Happy Father’s Day, everyone. I’m going to celebrate with a long bike ride on The Farmington Canal before my family takes me to dinner at La Zingara.
PS: An extraordinary collection of wisdom and advice for our new interns, on the cusp of your first day!
- Trust but verify. Make sure you understand for yourself what is going on with your patient.
- Joseph Vinetz, ID Attending
- Remember medicine is a team sport and it’s important to have good communication with not only your patients but nursing staff, pharmacists and respiratory therapists. We all have something to teach and learn from one another along this journey.
- Akash Gupta, PGY2
- Please ask for help when you could use it (with anything!), and advise what can be most helpful when help is offered. It’s usually better for patient care and makes the rest of the team feel useful. If we can teach a different way of achieving an objective that might come in handy in future, all the better.
- Curt Perry, Heme-Onc Fellow
- Enjoy it! Residency flies by…And always remember that you are NEVER alone, there are so many people to support in every sense along the way!
- Maria Diaz, Hospitalist (Off to MGH)
- My stress level at the beginning of intern year really dropped once I realized that no one actually expects a new intern do know anything, they just expect you to show up with a good attitude and a willingness to learn. As long as you do that, you’ll be just fine!
- Urs Weber, Hospitalist
- Medicine is a team sport. You are never alone in the hospital! Always ask for help if things don't make sense or you feel overwhelmed. Listen to the nurses! They will often sniff out problems before they start. Keep a list of subjects that are your weaknesses, read, and make them a strength.
- Elliott Miller, Cardiology Attending
- Enter with no expectations. Instead, know that you will learn, grow, and become more efficient. You will never have all the answers, but will always have access to your colleagues and the resources you need to provide outstanding patient care. Never forget that smiles are able to translate through masks.
- Cecily Allen, PGY2
- Imposter syndrome influenced how I participated in teaching sessions, how I cared for my patients, how I carried myself in rounds, and led to many sleepless nights. Words that have helped me along the way were from a speaker during our History of Medicine Dinner during my intern orientation, when she said "Nobody gets into Yale by accident." You were all picked because you're brilliant and kind humans. Residency is hard, but everyone here is invested in helping you succeed. We're always here for a venting session over coffee/ice cream/tea, tips and tricks, and for any additional resources we can provide!
- Christine Hsueh, Chief Resident
- Take care of yourself, so that you can take care of others. Identify your non-negotiables and continue to make time for them. Eat lunch away from your workstation (highly recommend the healing garden). Check in with each other. When someone asks what they can do to help, delegate a task to divide and conquer. Free text your notes, instead of using a template, and make sure they are succinct and with all the pertinent information. Spend more time at the bedside with the patients and with the nurses, rather than in front of a computer. When on nights, pre-round on all the patients after you receive signout so that you really know what happened during the day, check in with nurses about any concerns, and do sleep rounds- poke your head in and close lights and TVs for the patients to get a better night sleep (delirium precautions work!). Enjoy yourself and know that you have joined a residency family that will be here for you even after graduation, so feel free to reach out at any time!
- Christina Tripsas, PCCM Fellow, UCLA
- Intern year may seem daunting, and everyone starts off at different levels of comfort and confidence in themselves. You will learn so much this year and before you know it, you'll be taking care of patients like a pro!
- Emmy Coleman, Chief Resident (COE)
- Remember the interns and residents you admired most as medical students and emulate their best qualities and habits. You will be great!
- Ben Rodwin, Hospitalist, APD
- If reading EKGs gives you PVCs, you are not alone. Ask for help if you need it. This is true for all things medical, professional, personal and mental health related. You are not alone, ever. Too much caffeine is not good. Treat your patients as you would your family (even if they’re a family member that sometimes drives you crazy). Find people and things that bring you joy, and keep them in your life.
- Elizabeth Prsic, Palliative Care Attending, Co-Firm Chief for Oncology Firm
- Your job is to learn how to be a doctor and take care of your patients. Every day you do that is something to be proud of, and that’s enough. Try to ignore external pressures that tell you that you also need to be running marathons or creating a blog in your free time, (unless those things brings you joy, in which case by all means go ahead!) Just be extra kind to yourself this year. Listen to the nurses! If they are worried about something, chances are you should be too. Never be afraid to ask for help or worry about what you “should know.” Everyone will appreciate that you recognize that you need help! At the end of the day this is about patient care and it’s a team sport. Don’t worry! We’ve got your back. When in doubt, just get an ABG. A sense of humor will get you everywhere.
- Jemma Benson, Chief Resident
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Keep in touch with your mentors, your MAC, your APD. They’ve got your back! Practice giving constructive feedback to your team in real-time and face-to-face. It can feel like tough love but will help everyone grow stronger and helps minimize any misunderstandings.
- Remember not only patients are the ones who are suffering. Be patient with families, consultants. Be kind to your colleagues and look out for each other. Run the list with RNs at the start of a night shift, it helps minimize overnight pages when everyone is on the same page! Make sure to take coverage of your patients on Epic when you start your shift, and similarly signout/turn off MHB at the end. Schedule fun/restful activities and time for ADLs (laundry, groceries, appointments) ahead of time on your days off. You’ll thank yourself later!
- Ysabel Ilagan-Ying, PGY2
- You are here for a reason – it was not a mistake! It will take time, but one random day during intern year, you will wake up and say to yourself… “I got this thing”. It happens at a different time for everybody, but it’s a marvelous feeling. See you soon!
- Louis Levine, PGY2
- Dr. Sankey’s Wisdom (see attached)
- Christopher Sankey, Hospitalist, APD
- It takes time to be comfortable with what we don't know, but we're all in the same boat. So speak up, ask questions, don't be afraid during morning report to throw out an idea. I've gotten so much more out of our education during residency by becoming more confident in the one statement "I don't know" and participating rather than being ashamed or embarrassed. We are all here to learn and to learn from each other! You've entered a family here at Yale and we're all here to support each other!
- Sarah Marone, PGY3
- Remember, you are part of a team. Don’t feel you, alone, are responsible to solve every problem. The other members of the team certainly don’t. When unsure of anything, ask questions to your resident and your attending.
- Dan Federman, Chief of Medicine (VA)
- It’s okay to not know the answers. It’s okay to be slow. Take your time and ask for help. Be kind to your team members and do the best you can! That’s what makes someone a great physician and that’s all anyone’s asking of you!
- Brandon Lee, PGY2
- Becoming a good doctor is like running a marathon—so don’t plan for a sprint! Always find one unique thing about each patient you take care of –it keeps you grounded and reminds you that you have a special calling.
- Merceditas Villanueva, ID Attending, Firm Chief for Donaldson Firm
- Welcome! I so look forward to working with you. My own internship was long ago but seems like yesterday. Here is a pearl that I'm glad I learned along the way and am still practicing. Meet people and establish a community. The people here want to know you, not only want you to be successful, but, more importantly, want you to be happy, fulfilled, and find inspiration and meaning in what you do. Yale is a large, diverse group of great people, each of whom have a story. Everyone has times when they have felt vulnerable, proud, scared, triumphant, happy, and sad. Everyone makes mistakes. I encourage you to get out and meet others, establish relationships, listen, share, laugh, cry, joke around, empathize, and feel. Being a physician is hard, but so rewarding. We are all here for you, you are never alone. Enjoy the journey!
- Cindy McNamara, Primary Care Attending, APD
- Never be afraid to ask questions and reach out for help - this is encouraged, expected, and the best way to learn. Also, embrace the afternoon coffee rounds - trust me, it always helps!
- Kimberly Glerum, PGY2
- Honesty, commitment, collegiality. If you keep your focus on those three goals, you will inspire others.
- Vincent Quagliarello, Vice Chair for Education and Academic Affairs, ID Attending, PGY41
- Welcome to all of the incoming interns! It is so great to be able to actually see all of you! This is a very exciting time for each of you and for all of us. You are joining our family and remember that family is always there to help, support, assist, hug and love!! That may sound trite, but it’s not when it is said here. No one has ever said that this will be easy, But think about what you will have and be able to do as you finish. I liken it to a Mother being in labor to deliver a child – it is tough going, but when I is done, look at what you now have in your life and when you look back over the time of labor, it always looks like it went faster than it did, and never seemed as hard then as it did when you were going through it! Best of luck!!
- Rosemarie Fisher, GI Attending, Former Traditional IM Program Director, Former DIO, Yale GME Legend
- Asking for help is a sign of strength. Do not hesitate to reach out.
- Inginia Genao, Primary Care Attending, Associate Chief for Diversity Equity and Inclusion
- Do not be afraid to ask (anyone) for help. You are meant to be here. Welcome to the Yale Family.
- Lisa O'Donovan, PGY2